HomeStandard StyleEmpowering African women through health, fitness

Empowering African women through health, fitness

By Nothando Monalisa Mushati

I had been a plump girl from a young age and growing up I always came across people passing comments, sometimes with concern, sometimes just out of sheer pity and sometimes to make fun of my body. Every time someone passed a comment, I would turn red with fury, sometimes cry and sometimes snap. Imagine meeting someone after a considerable interval and the first thing they say is, Oh! You’ve put on a lot of weight. Because of that I spent majority of my time lost in self-critical thoughts, despising my body and comparing myself unfavourably to others.

We live in a society that is obsessed with everything. Fat is bad, dark is ugly, thin is sick. These “Too much” and “Not enough” and “Wish I had” attitudes are something that we cultivate about our bodies each and every day. Most of us are potential victims of “body shaming”, especially via social media. When we fail to meet the supposed beauty standards, it takes a toll on our own perception and makes us love ourselves less.

I felt like this for a long time and I decided to break the cycle. I made a decision to change and so I embarked on a weight loss journey. This journey wasn’t a walk in the park, but it definitely changed my life. Knowing how hard it is to change, the amount of discipline required, and the constant battles you have with your own brain, so I decided to break the mold and start a health and fitness programme — targeting women called African Soul Sisters.

As a company we aim to give women the self-assurance they deserve to kick, but in a world that is so connected to social media and unrealistic body image messaging. Not only do we want women to be self-confident, but also to be healthy. Most diseases are preventable, and we want to help reduce women’s chances of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and others simply by changing their daily lifestyle choices. Nothing is more empowering than having self-confidence. Being proud of the woman you see in the mirror every morning is a feature many try hard to attain but few experience. African Soul Sisters acknowledge that a method of obtaining this confidence comes from a healthy lifestyle.

Yes women we have a responsibility to take care of our bodies and more so, enjoying the diversity of our bodies should be our main concern as women. Body hate isn’t about your body — it’s about your mind. Or rather the thoughts in your mind. And what you feel about yourself is what you tend to project out into the world. We spend so much time criticising ourselves. Why don’t we try and move some of the focus away and start celebrating our bodies the way it is. When I learned to focus on positive aspects of my body and myself, it became much easier to feel confident, outgoing and empowered. We are all unique, quite beautifully so, we are given the bodies that we have at birth. We can’t change that. So, why are we having this shame for our own beautiful bodies? When did it become okay for other people to pass a judgement on how we look? These are questions we discuss as African Soul Sisters and we find solutions together on our forum.

We are currently running a 30-day healthy challenge open for any women who is determined to change. For more information visit africansoulsisters.

l Nothando Monalisa Mushati is a Zimbabwean living abroad representing African Soul Sisters.

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